What is "plein air"?
“Plein air” is a French term meaning “open air,” and it refers to outdoor painting. Painting outside played a major role in the development of impressionism. Despite the common belief the things are really as they are, that they have a precise and determinate color and shape, a simple observation will make it obvious that color, shape, and intensity (tone) change with light and atmosphere. Everything transforms as the light and air change, and this creates an abundant and nuanced world, giving itself to us to be experienced.
Under the heavy advertising from today’s art world, many believe that painters make now only abstract and conceptual work. However, there have always been painters working outside, and these days there is a growing plein air movement, and many painters take their easels outdoors, at least part of the time. The infinite variety and nuance of the outdoor experience filtered through the unique and modern sensibility and skills of each painter allow new artistic expressions. Some might say, “This plein air painting belongs to the past.” It would be so if the artist copies old masters. But plein air will always remain a valid expression when the artist stays true to the subjects and the personal experience. Both nature and human experience are inexhaustible. Their beauty will always pour in the eyes willing to look.
Horsebarn Hill: Moonrise at Sunset, oil, 10 x 10 inches
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A Year of Plein Air on Horsebarn Hill